'Homes would make this "has Beane Valley"' says Stevenage MP and East Herts Green Belt campaigners
PUBLISHED: 16:13 18 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:13 18 November 2016
High-profile opposition is stacking up to plans for a 600-home estate called Gresley Park which developers hope to build to the east of Gresley Way in Stevenage.
Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland has come down firmly against the plans, which are currently being consulted on as part of East Herts District Council’s Local Plan.
He and a vocal group of campaigners say the council included the site in the Local Plan at the last minute, which means their views won’t have a chance to be heard before it is passed to the government for consideration later this year.
They say the area is prime Green Belt land and does not have the infrastructure to take more houses.
Mr McPartland said: “It is shocking that East Herts District Council wants to breach the Beane Valley and build on what they call Gresley Park.
“This would be the first step towards the destruction of the Beane Valley and merging of Aston village into Stevenage.”
Mr McPartland says all district councils should scrap their local plans and move towards building a new garden city on an as-yet-unknown site in Hertfordshire which he says could cater for all the government’s housing targets.
The three elected Liberal Democrat councillors in Stevenage – Andy McGuinness, Robin Parker and Graham Snell – have also announced that they strongly oppose the plans.
Mr Parker, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Stevenage Borough Council, said: “Neither we nor the residents of Chells Manor want 600 houses dumped on our doorstep, merely to get East Herts District Council up to its government housing numbers target.
“It would destroy the River Beane valley and the outlook to the east. It would also put a huge extra burden on our local roads and infrastructure, in particular Gresley Way.”
Other high-profile opponents include the Campaign for Rural England’s honorary director Kevin FitzGerald.
The plans are being proposed by Pidgeon Investment Management Limited. The decision to include the site in the Local Plan comes only a year after the council’s own Green Belt review concluded the land’s overall suitability for development was ‘very low’.
The Local Plan will be assessed for approval by a government inspector early next year.
A council spokeswoman said: “Considerations other than the Green Belt have to be taken into account – such as the government requirement that we meet projected housing need as well as allowing sustainable development.”